I just tried for the third time to phone up to sort out my census. The message on the end of the line was ‘We’re experiencing a high volume of traffic please phone back or visit the web page’.
The whole experience of attempting to fill out my census information and be counted for being ‘non-binary’ is about as hard as what it is to be counted or seen on a daily basis.
First of all, thanks to all the ‘talk’ on social media I found out for my gender to be counted or listed as something different than ‘male’ or ‘female’ I needed to phone up to get a special code because the ordinary forms only had ‘male’ or ‘female’. I wonder if all of us ‘special’ people all have the same code or if we get a different one? I know, I know, of course we all get something different, but really it makes me think of ye oldey world days of hanky codes or something similar. How do I scope out my other fellow non binary peeps? by being loud. Every day. Each day. Three times a day. On social media. In conversation. Telling people. All the frigging time.
I ring up the census hotline for the first time. The person on the other end of the phone is entirely onto it. Bravo, they know what the fuck I am talking about and I don’t have to explain myself for the 400th time. I don’t need to educate yet another person, to get what I want, which is to be visible and counted. As a human. Like other humans. The person on the end of the phone tells me, yes, that is correct I need a special code. Then they tell me because of where I live there are special forms being delivered or some such thing. There is some issue with the post in our area. They tell me I will get a message with my special code delivered when this form gets delivered, probably that weekend. Days before the big ‘census’ night. They also tell me not to worry, there is actually 7 weeks to fill out the form.
Now here’s the thing. I couldn’t give a fuck about personal data. Pretty sure in this day and age there are multiple ways that someone’s personal information can be found out. It’s not hard to find many things. Yes, there is problems with the census, but in my opinion it’s more about the people who are not counted. Homeless people comes to mind. How are they counted. Are they not important? of course they are…but I’m on a tangent.
By now I have a bee in my bonnet and I’m determined to stand up and be counted. I want my personal information known. Hell, I want everyone to know about my non-binary nature. Census night comes, social media feeds are filled with people complaining about systems crashing or whatever. I’m sitting back, not at my usual address, not even trying, because hell, I haven’t got my special code and really it’s just not me to run with the mainstream anyway. Actually I am at my ‘other’ partner’s house. How the hell is this recorded, it probably isn’t…… Just days ago a person posted on a friends facebook status that non binary people were just playing with fashion and couldn’t be considered to be ‘real’. That’s me, trying to make a fashion statement.
A couple of weeks later I give the census ‘people’ a call. Tell them I never got my code, nothing was delivered. They respond with something like ‘mmmm strange okay we’ll text you that code’. In the meantime one of my partners couldn’t fill in their form because they couldn’t record my gender as ‘other’ either. So I pass over the phone to them. My partner speaks to the voice and in doing so tells them I wasn’t home on census night anyway, and asks about how to fill out her form. The voice told my partner she could use the code I would have received by text, and that I would need to ring up again….sigh.
A number of days later, today in fact, I give the census ‘people’ a call and am told they are experiencing a high volume of traffic. Call back. Three phone calls and it’s still not sorted.
All ‘you people’ who complained because you couldn’t log in, because the system crashed, consider yourself lucky. You all experienced the same issue, the majority of people’s issue. If you were one of the people who has had the census office come knocking at your door reminding you to fill in your form, consider yourself privileged, at least someone cares. If you had to log on at a later date and do it, consider yourself privileged, it’s a pretty minor inconvenience. You didn’t need to make multiple calls, it was all pretty straight forward..pardon the pun. A classic example of heterosexist privilege.
I want to be counted. I’ve been trying, but everything about this process has been hard. I’ve had to persist every step of the way. It’s really no different to every day life and trying to get other people to understand and see the existence of non binary people, but I will persist and I will be counted. We aren’t going anywhere.
…several days later…rang them again and the address of where I actually was doesn’t seem to exist on their records… they’ll get back to me.